The founders of the spice start-up Ankerkraut, Anne and Stefan Lemcke, have been fans from the outset: “Since the format started running in Germany as The Lion’s Den, we have watched every episode. And we’ve always dreamed of being in the lion’s cage one day.” This dream came true in the autumn of 2016. The couple made their pitch to five investors and were able to generate interest in their spice factory from the entrepreneur Frank Thelen. Since then a lot has happened at the company, which was formed as recently as 2013. Just days ago, the couple opened their first shop in Hamburg’s inner city on August 3. Their key selling point: The spices and spice mixtures are hand-selected in the Port of Hamburg and are sold without flavour enhancers or preservatives.
When the co-founders appeared with their “spices with Hanseatic charm” before the jury and an audience of millions in the third DHDL season, they presented exotic spice blends, such as saffron salt and lime pepper. The aim was to secure backing for expanding sales and help in breaking into new markets. Business angel Frank Thelen saw the potential and invested EUR 300,000 in the start-up, taking a stake of 20 per cent in return. The money went into areas, machinery, logistics, staff and in the online profile. This helped the company to establish its products not only in specialist food outlets, but also in around 2,000 outlets across Germany – and Europe through their online shop. The start-up currently employs a staff of 70 and turned over EUR 9 million in 2017.
Smell, taste, feel
Five years after its founding, Ankerkraut has opened a flagship store in downtown Hamburg. All of Ankerkraut’s 270 products are available on a shop floor area of some 75 square metres, including dried marinades and teas. The founders are convinced that their customers should be able to experience and test their products at first hand. But they are not stopping there and continues to revolutionise the spice market: Ankerkraut is launching sales on the Teleshopping channel HSE24 in mid September. Expansion into the U.S. market is scheduled for 2019. The start-up is also in the final of the German Founders Prize for 2018 – in the category “Aufsteiger” (Achievers). The winners will be announced on September 11, 2018.
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